A new brainteaser involving 12 toothpicks is baffling the internet.
The puzzle appeared on question and answers website Quora and challenges fans to turn a four-square pattern into three squares. Sounds easy? It’s not.
If you had an unlimited amount of moves to figure it out, it’d be easy enough. But the main problem is that the puzzle has to be solved in just three moves, making the solution infuriatingly hard to complete.
Trying to figure it out without already knowing the answer seems pretty impossible – and we tried it out ourselves with matchsticks (the result is the same – we didn’t have toothpicks).
People on Quora have apparently been trying to figure it out for hours, the Daily Mail reports. Which is no surprise considering the amount of time people usually waste on these puzzles.
But like most brainteasers, the answer is infuriatingly easy.
Here are the rules: one move means moving one toothpick (or matchstick) in any manner; a perfect square is one in which all four corners are closed (aka toothpicks are touching); you cannot break or modify a toothpick; you cannot put two toothpicks right next to each other and count that as one side; you must use exactly three moves; all three squares must be of the same size; every toothpick must be part of a square.
Try it out – it may take you longer than you think.
The solution? Prepare to be frustrated by the simplicity.
Start by moving a toothpick (or matchstick, like we used) from the top left over to the middle right. Like the above photo.
Then, take a stick from the top left again, this time placing it on the far right hand side, like below.
The last move is taking the middle bottom pick and moving it over to the right.
Simpler than most people would have thought – and it stumped pretty much everyone on Quora.
But there are always a few brainiacs lurking online who can solve puzzles like these in a heartbeat, and the Quora thread revealed plenty of them.
Max Loh wrote:
I was looking at the problem thinking: “this is going to be hard” because the rules of the game already precluded solutions by witty insights which means if people still have trouble it must be actually hard.
Ten seconds of thinking later I solved it in my head; it was literally the first solution I attempted, and I’m left scratching my head at how it’s supposed to be hard.
Prateek R. Srivastava concurred, also gloated about his faster-than-average brain, saying: “It took me some 30 seconds!”
Not all of us are as smart as Max and Prateek, though, so don’t feel too bad if you didn’t get it straight away.